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Archive 2012 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?
  
 
Jeff_Stapleton
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


I am absolutely loving taking action sports images. Out of all the hobby things I've done (music, recording bands, playing in bands), I've enjoyed this the most. If I didn't have a family and other commitments, I could see myself doing this full time. Its really fun to be on the sidelines of any game. Its especially rewarding (and I'm sure some sort of brain-chemical interaction) when you get "that" shot.

For those of you who do sports photography as a side thing, have you ever considered hanging it up? I'm at a point where I feel I'm ok equipment wise for sports, but I feel like I invest too much time, money, and mental focus into something that pays peanuts (shooting for local news sources).

The past year, I've been shooting quite a bit. I really do want to get better with each shoot. I'm hungry for 'moving up.' Although I don't feel like my images are at a pro level yet, I feel like I could get there with more practice and experience.

But, that process is taking a lot away. In certain seasons, my family rarely sees me. (Is sports photography a single mans game?) I'm working on something constantly. Editing a shoot, culling images, maintaining facebook/websites... on top of the stuff I normally do.

My son is 5 and plays some sports. I work with teenagers as a youth minister and am at their sporting events (and shooting their senior pictures) often. I don't think I'll ever STOP taking pictures completely, but right now feels like a time in my life when I need to put on the brakes.

Anybody else considered hanging it up for good, or at least for a season of life?



Oct 23, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Jeff_Stapleton wrote:
I am absolutely loving taking action sports images. Out of all the hobby things I've done (music, recording bands, playing in bands), I've enjoyed this the most. If I didn't have a family and other commitments, I could see myself doing this full time. Its really fun to be on the sidelines of any game. Its especially rewarding (and I'm sure some sort of brain-chemical interaction) when you get "that" shot.

For those of you who do sports photography as a side thing, have you ever considered hanging it up? I'm at a point where I feel I'm ok equipment wise
...Show more
I have a feeling every sports photographer feels like "hanging it up" at some point or another. I know I have.

Here's the thing, nobody really get's into this for the money. Sure, people can make a living, but it's 40+ hours a week on nights and weekends (not holidays as much though). I've know people that have worked for several years working full or part time before they are ready to go full-time. I know I'm not. Hopefully soon but not yet.

FWIW: I've known plenty of photographers that are married and have kids, so I wouldn't say it's a single man's (or women's) game by any means.

Of course, you need to judge that for yourself and your life.



Oct 23, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Carl Auer
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


I beg to differ with Caleb. This is a 365 day a year job if you want to make a living at it. When you get beyond youth sports, there are games on Thanksgiving, Christmas day, and other holidays. I have missed so many Thanksgiving Dinners over the last 7 years shooting the Great Alaska Shootout that I am not sure what a Turkey Day dinner is supposed to consist of. Right now, I have been doing maintenance on my web page, checking schedules for local teams and working on a shooting schedule, trying to find specific events coming up in my area (anyone know a good place besides the TEAM USA Site to look for olympic level winter sports schedules? I am coming up blank), cleaning and organizing my gear for my next shoot. I had to run to the store and the bank and took my camera with me just in case, and I am always carrying business cards with me to hand out to potential clients. I love doing this, I can not see my self doing anything else, but it is a strain on family. Your best bet is to luck out and get a staff position. With that, you work a 40 hour week, get a regular paycheck, no mater how much you shoot or how little you shoot. Drawback is, you usually do not always retain your copyright and multiple sales do not always get you more money. Honestly, for me, to break even each year, I need to do team and individual shots for at least three leagues of 600+ kids, or sell $3k per month between MaxPreps, wire services, Senior Photos, etc. And that will not buy me new gear. That is to keep current bills up to date, buy food, and pay for gas.

I view every time I go out of the house as a chance to make money, either by going to a shoot, meeting with clients or potential clients, networking, etc. We are planning a vacation next spring and I am already working with Corbis to provide them with shots along our vacation route that have been requested by clients, or that are hot topics at the time.

And on top of that, take care of my mom and try to have some sort of life...it is not easy.



Oct 23, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Jeff,
I could provide a lengthy response sharing my own experiences, but I feel the most significant thing I can say to you is that your son will never be five again. The biggest question you face is how much of your time with him you are willing to sacrifice beyond that for which you have no choice. Photography isn't going away.

Edited on Oct 23, 2012 at 08:34 PM · View previous versions



Oct 23, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Carl Auer wrote:
I beg to differ with Caleb. This is a 365 day a year job if you want to make a living at it. When you get beyond youth sports, there are games on Thanksgiving, Christmas day, and other holidays. I have missed so many Thanksgiving Dinners over the last 7 years shooting the Great Alaska Shootout that I am not sure what a Turkey Day dinner is supposed to consist of.

I must be lucky as a lot of the college sports I've been shooting don't occur on holidays.

That said, we have vastly different budgets, lifestyles and lives and while I work full time, I don't make anywhere close to 3000/month at my day job. So for me photography is a way to augment that more and more as I can.

For me, I chose to work 4 days a week 10.5 hours each so I can have Saturdays available to shoot. (Where I work, weekends are required.)



Oct 23, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Grantland
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Russ Isabella wrote:
the most significant thing I can say to you is that your son will never be five again.



great words of wisdom.



Oct 23, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Jeff_Stapleton
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Russ Isabella wrote:
Jeff,
I could provide a lengthy response sharing my own experiences, but I feel the most significant thing I can say to you is that your son will never be five again. The biggest question you face is how much of your time with him you are willing to sacrifice beyond that for which you have no choice. Photography isn't going away.


And thats where I really am right now. I have a two year old daughter too. The past few weeks, they expect me to not be home and cry every time I am home for a few minutes, then leave. I also leave my wife (who teaches Kindergarten and spends all day taking care of 23 5 and 6 year olds herself) to do the parent thing herself.

It is a boost of pride when an organization or school contacts me out of the blue. I feel like I have to take that job...have to keep shooting...but I have to realize that shooting may not be a priority right now. Just trying to get a feel for what the masses out there say



Oct 23, 2012 at 09:32 PM
rbaker
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Russ Isabella wrote:
Jeff,
I could provide a lengthy response sharing my own experiences, but I feel the most significant thing I can say to you is that your son will never be five again. The biggest question you face is how much of your time with him you are willing to sacrifice beyond that for which you have no choice. Photography isn't going away.


Truer words have never been spoken Russ...

For me, I've learned to say "no" over the past couple of seasons. I make time for my family (wife and 16 year old twin boys) and they both play football and wrestle for their school, so I shoot almost all of there events. The cool part is saying no has caused a little bit of competition for my schedule from all of the local colleges. They also try and combine events, and reach out to other SID's to make my trip more profitable so I'm willing to shoot their events. Don't get me wrong, there's still times when I question my sanity, but I still love it, and that's all that matters right now...



Oct 23, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Jeff_Stapleton wrote:
And thats where I really am right now. I have a two year old daughter too. The past few weeks, they expect me to not be home and cry every time I am home for a few minutes, then leave. I also leave my wife (who teaches Kindergarten and spends all day taking care of 23 5 and 6 year olds herself) to do the parent thing herself.

It is a boost of pride when an organization or school contacts me out of the blue. I feel like I have to take that job...have to keep shooting...but I have to realize
...Show more

Most important investment you will ever make, Jeff. No shit. If I may wax philosophical.... When it comes to your kids, life is surprisingly short/fast. When it comes to your personal pursuits, it's a long haul. Your time will come, but right now, you're in the most challenging, highest-conflict stage of you family's development. (not my opinion. There's a lot of research behind it.) only you can figure out what's best for you, but you are wise to realize there are choices to be made. Might be easier for you if you think about it in terms of what you'll gain rather than what you'll be 'hanging up'.



Oct 23, 2012 at 10:34 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


My current situation is 40 hour workweek in my day job (teaching), and an additional 60-80 hours per week from March-November in the photo business of which only 10% of it is actually taking pictures. The other 90% is editing and printing, marketing, customer service calls, accounting, client databasing, payroll, and other tasks pertaining to the infrustructure of the company such as repairing stands, cleaning the company van, organization and logistics.

My day (Monday-Friday):
Up at 5:00 AM
At work to plan lessons and mark papers by 6:00 AM
Teach from 8:30-2:30 PM
Shoot from 3:00-4:00 PM (Sometimes longer depending)
Photo related work described above from 5:00-midnight

Weekend:
Leave on Friday night for photo job (air or car)
Saturday Shoot- 8 AM - 10 PM
Sunday Shoot - 8 AM - 10 PM
Drive or fly back home and be ready to be at school at 5 AM the next day.

I have never eaten a breakfast since starting this business, never taken a lunch because I need lunchtime to give extra help to kids, mark papers, or plan for the next day.

I limit myself to no more than one hour per day of down time and during that time, I must have dinner. I do take pockets of time here and there to read and respond here, see what everyone is doing on FB, and breathe.

I have never watched a single episode of American Idol, Survivor, CSI, Lost, Sopranos, or any other TV show that has a plot. I have no idea what those shows are. There is no time to invest time in TV. Sometimes it plays in the BG, but cannot divert any of my attention. I haven't had a vacation in about 10 years.

Summers are a little better with a little more time to breathe and December to February is the off season where we make plans for improvements for the following season.

This all being said... I wouldn't give up what I do for anything in the world. It's still just as fresh, new, and fun as it was the first day and really balances my day job well.

But...

I'm single.

If I had kids and a wife, the picture would be a whole lot different. Jeff... you're young and will wear many hats in your lifetime, but you'll always be a dad and as Russ says, your kids are kids for only so long. Don't miss out on those years.



Oct 23, 2012 at 11:04 PM
 

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amlsml
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Jeff, As a Father of 4 I hear what you are saying and I can only tell you from experience, the times spent with the kids is what it is all about. I would also like to get my passion to the next level, but realize that life is a marathon and at this stage I need to mix my Photography with my kids activities. Most of my posts are from their teams, schools, leagues and events. I just recently got hired by my Sons HS to shoot all of the school sports, Fun for me, slightly profitable AND I SEE MY SON! I found that chasing other kids for small pay and burning an entire day was good while I was learning, but found the home front was paying for my time away. SO shoot your kids, their friends, Seniors, Leagues, Local T and I and you will hopefully morph your passion and your family. As they grow so will you, both professionally and personally. I have found that the product I can put out, Even in the formative stage, IS WAY better than the mom on the sideline with her iPhone. I have also found, she is the one who will buy that special shot. Go back into Russ, Frank and Ted's posts and you will see their growth as they chronicled their kids exploits and got to teach us newbies the secrets of good sports photography. That is why I come here, and thanks to you guys who have shown the way.


Oct 24, 2012 at 01:28 AM
marino420td
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Interesting reading the responses. I have many hobbies and some have come and gone (RC airplanes, ATV's, motorcycle, reef tank, reptiles, etc...). But photography is a hobby that I picked up several years ago and don't think I will ever give up. I can take photos all year, indoors and out, rain or shine. I have invested a ridiculous amount of time and money to become a better photographer. I owe many thanks to the contributors on Fred Miranda because I gained most of my knowledge on these forums. But I don't want to be a Professional Photographer. I want to have professional skills but I am happy shooting at my leisure on my time. And I am lucky enough to have two boys that are active in several sports each. So I have plenty of opportunities to sharpen my skills WHILE watching them play. Best of both worlds.

Paul, your photography skills are what I strive to emulate. There are others but to me, yours stand out. But that work week you described above is exactly why I am happy to remain a hobbyist. I still get excited every time I get to grab my gear and head to a game. I don't think that will ever change.



Oct 24, 2012 at 02:54 AM
andyz
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


I would agree with many of the comments leaning toward the family. I would say you pull back a bit on photography and push on the more meaningful family life. Remember when you're time has run out, do want to leave the world a better family, or photos?


Oct 24, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Grantland
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


P Alesse wrote:
My current situation is 40 hour workweek in my day job (teaching), and an additional 60-80 hours per week from March-November in the photo business of which only 10% of it is actually taking pictures. The other 90% is editing and printing, marketing, customer service calls, accounting, client databasing, payroll, and other tasks pertaining to the infrustructure of the company such as repairing stands, cleaning the company van, organization and logistics.

My day (Monday-Friday):
Up at 5:00 AM
At work to plan lessons and mark papers by 6:00 AM
Teach from 8:30-2:30 PM
Shoot from 3:00-4:00 PM (Sometimes longer depending)
Photo related work described above
...Show more

is this what is meant by type "A" ?




Oct 24, 2012 at 04:57 AM
P Alesse
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


All my friends say that I better take a short rest now or else I'll take long rest permanently.


Oct 24, 2012 at 10:15 AM
Jay_Be
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


P Alesse wrote:
All my friends say that I better take a short rest now or else I'll take long rest permanently.



Yes you had. My wife and son are both teachers so I'm well aware of how stressful the job is. If i had to do their job as well as earn my primary crust as a photographer in the little time left over, i'd not last 6 months. And to the original poster, your kids will be adults before you can blink. You don't get a second chance to help them grow and believe me, you would regret missing it and so would they.




Oct 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM
rddayton
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Jeff,

I read your post with a lot of interest -- and it is obvious to me that many others have as well. It is probably because as the father of three, I, like you, work a full-time job that is not photography. At least not still photography. I work as the morning news anchor for the CBS television affiliate in Pittsburgh. My alarm clock goes off at 2:45 AM. On the air from 4:30 to 9:00, then out the door to report every day. Usually home by 12:30 or 1 PM. The reason I took this job is simple -- it's my wife and three kids. I never miss one of their games -- even if those are middle school games that kick-off/tip-off at 3 in the afternoon. It's usually me and many moms there -- because dad is working. Two of our boys are in high school -- and baseball here is almost always in the afternoon. Again, I never miss.

The schedule is ideal for photography as a second source of income because it means I can get to any field, court, diamond or rink -- and never miss work.

But back to your original point of hanging up the sports shooting for a while. I think you already answered your own question. You know what you want to do. I imagine you know what your wife wants you to do, and I'm sure you know what your kids want you to do. There will always be pictures to be taken. There won't always be time to snuggle on the bed with a little one and read a story -- or put a band-aid on an elbow or knee. Those are bonding moments that can never be replaced.

One final thought. In my real job, I've had the opportunity to interview thousands of very successful people. Sports, Business, Politics, Entertainment. Many have confided how they wish they had spend more time with their children. Not once has any one ever told me they wish that they had worked more.

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski told me years and years ago, "Rick, Follow your heart." I'd tell you the same thing.



Oct 24, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Frank Lauri
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Jeff....great advice here from many great talented individuals. You gotta do what is right for you and your family. The photography piece will always be there.

I'm 57 years old and if you look at the home page of my website.....you will see the first year I really got serious was 2008....when I started to do jobs and get decent gigs. I joined FM in 2004 and from 2004 to 2008 I used that time to learn, practice and work on my skills. Yeah....I also made a few bucks in that time too but it was really peanuts. Parents seeing me there and saying can you take a few on my Johnny.

Before that.....I always had a passion for photography and I satisfied it taking pics of my kids growing up and playing their sports.

My day job is a Security Supervisor at a Nuclear Power Plant. I've been there for 33 years and for my first 24 years I worked shift work......sometimes working 400+ hours overtime per year. During those years I rarely missed my kids events and I even coached all three of them in Little League for their entire time.

Towards the later end of my youngest sons sports career is when I started to get some low level jobs and I could say yes or no depending on if my son was playing or not.

Now they are all grown and two are out on their own and my wife works nights as a nurse......I work straight days with weekends off and I'm in a better position to follow my passion...more as a business.

You have some decent gear....your kids are in sports and you are around kids all the time which give you perfect opportunities to keep up with your craft and maybe even earn some mad money on the side.

But I think you provided the answer to your questions right here: but right now feels like a time in my life when I need to put on the brakes.




Oct 24, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Marty Bingham
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


Jeff_Stapleton wrote:
Its especially rewarding (and I'm sure some sort of brain-chemical interaction) when you get "that" shot.


Like a lot of people you have lumped several things together under the umbrella of photography, like loving to be on the sidelines and developing a career. Sometimes they run together and make it easy to lose focus on what really motivates you..

Maybe you should breakdown the different aspects of your photography and see if you can regroup for the time being while keeping the most important parts. If the sports component is most important, just go to a game. If you need extra income, find second job that pays more than sports photography, like Mcdonald's.

Speaking for myself, photography has always been about getting that shot. Everything, and I mean everything, else is way down the list photography wise.

I'm not a sports fan. If I'm not there to shoot, I'm not there at all. Even though I have been able to finance all my equipment and run my little enterprise on a cash up front basis I don't need the money. It's like the guy who used to work his butt off planting corn with a mule. When asked why he did it he said "I need the corn to feed the d@mn mule!"

So, if the heart of the matter is a burning desire to get that shot you really don't need the other two components. Especially the career/income part.

I stumbled into sports photography as a photographer in search of a subject. A pure and simple truth of photography is, most of the time the best subject is right under your nose...






Thanks,
Marty




Edited on Oct 24, 2012 at 05:40 PM · View previous versions



Oct 24, 2012 at 01:49 PM
cmpdesignz2010
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Ever hung it up, or considered it?


If I don't find something steady soon I will be out of the business by the New Year. Hell of a way to celebrate. I keep being told I'm a talented photographer, but I can't catch a break. Really sucks because I love what I do. It never mattered to me if I was shooting pro or amateur sports as long as I was making great images and clients happy. I'm going to miss it greatly.


Oct 24, 2012 at 01:55 PM
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